A new study, released in the Journal of Adolescent Health, says that teaching children to conform to traditional gender roles has lifelong consequences. Kristin Mmari, one of the leading researchers, said, “How you perceive boys and girls is socially driven, it’s not biologically driven.” Folks, we are hastening the fall of the family unit in the name of “gender equality,” and this (despite the rosy conclusion that “being honest and open with kids can still lead to them being successful and happy”) doesn’t bode well for America.
As Christians, we ought to turn to the Bible, which I believe is the Word of God, as our map for life and how to live it. It has much to say about family structure and, yes, gender roles. God did not set up His creation this way because He is a male chauvinist, contrary to popular, secular opinion. He, in fact, calls men and women to love one another, support one another, and gives each gender-specific roles because He knows what is best for those He created.
God has set the standard of relationships, as he instructs us to “[submit] to one another out of reverence for Christ” in Ephesians 5:21.
Moreover, in 1 Peter 3:1-7, He gives us these instructions.
“Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct. Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening. Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.”
It may make some among us uncomfortable, but the Bible does call men to be the head of the household and to lead women. I believe our society often takes much of the Word out of (both literary and cultural) context, and the areas concerning familial structure are not spared from this tendency. Too often, social commentary is caught in the chasm of “Anything men can do, we can do better,” and “No, you can’t.” God did not design a man to do what a woman can do. God did not design a woman to do what a man can do.
Instead, in His perfect wisdom, the Lord designed men and women to partner and seek His face together. He meant for us to love, cherish, and support each other as we take our shared inadequacies to Him so that we can be whole. We forgot this almost immediately upon our creation as we rebelled against our Creator’s plan for us. According to Genesis 3:8 and Genesis 3:16-19, God set them in place Himself.
“To the woman he said, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
When God said, “Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you,” he wasn’t talking about sexual desire. He was saying we would be cursed to fight one another for control in the marriage if left to our own devices. Despite recent improvement, marriages still only have a 50/50 chance of enduring a lifetime. As Christians, we need to help steer the discussion from focusing on the differences men and women have to focus on the Divine call to form a three-stranded cord as we lift each other up to the Lord. We are two strands, He is the third.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 gives us an encouraging view on relationships.
“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”